Feature photo: Camden City Council member Felisha Reyes-Morton
AC JosepH Media
CAMDEN – Camden city council members Marilyn Torres, Shaneka Boucher and Felisha Reyes-Morton have sent a letter to the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs questioning the appointment of a risk manager for the city.
The members said they made the request after a state audit on the business practices of Conner Strong & Buckelew.
“The state comptroller’s audit reveals shocking details about the level of greed and improper advice given by Conner Strong in managing Pennsauken Schools insurance policy,” said Torres, the council’s vice president. “It’s why I cannot in good conscience vote for this resolution.”
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Boucher, a nonprofit executive, added: “Our job is to be good stewards of the public’s tax dollars. Approving this resolution, given what we’ve learned, is completely counter to the taxpayers’ interests.”
In their letter to Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who heads the state Department of Community Affairs, the council members pointed out their concerns.
“A recent audit conducted by the New Jersey State Comptroller’s Office discovered a $1.6 million analysis error made by Conner Strong & Buckelew, the insurance broker for Pennsauken Public Schools, a neighboring community to Camden.
“In the audit’s findings section, it clearly states: ‘The District could have cut costs of at least $1.6 million in FYs 2014 and 2015 by joining the School Employees’ Health Benefits Program (SEHBP).
“Instead, Conner Strong & Buckelew chose to focus on their commissions and place the Pennsauken Public Schools in a more costly private plan. Moreover, the audit also points out that Conner Strong & Buckelew was “Improperly paying employees $95,000 in health benefit opt-out waivers, stipends, and unused accrued leave,” the letter said.
Reyes-Morton charged that Conner Strong took advantage of public institutions and turned them into profit centers.
“You don’t have to be Elon Musk to realize what’s taken place,” she said in a statement. “Conner Strong treats public entities like banks and they’re going to do everything in their power to shake every dollar loose, no matter the cost to taxpayers. We’re not going to let that happen in Camden anymore.”
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